Most people will need anesthesia at least once in their lives, whether it’s a local anesthetic or one that puts them to sleep. The purpose of anesthesia is to put a patient into a drug-induced state, so they can undergo a medical procedure without feeling any pain. When there is a mistake while administering anesthesia, it can have tragic consequences for the patient and their families. If the error is the result of negligence, you could have a valid claim for anesthesia malpractice.
If you or someone you love was the victim of anesthesiologist malpractice, let the New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers at Poulos & Coates, LLP, help. We are the only law firm in New Mexico exclusively specializing in medical malpractice cases. When you schedule an appointment with us, we will review your case and advise you on the best course of legal action. In many cases, we may recommend filing an anesthesia lawsuit in New Mexico.
Types of Anesthesia
There are three main types of anesthesia:
- Local anesthesia—anesthesiologists use local anesthesia on a section of the body to numb it while the patient stays awake;
- Regional anesthesia—regional anesthesia is used to numb a significant part of a patient’s body, such as the leg or arm; and
- General anesthesia—anesthesiologists use general anesthesia when the patient needs to be completely unconscious, so they will not be able to recall the surgery.
There is a fourth type of anesthesia that is not used as often. It’s called intravenous (IV) monitored sedation. This type of anesthesia is conscious sedation. The doctors use a combination of IV sedation and regional or local anesthesia to make the patient more comfortable and relaxed, but they are not entirely asleep. Anesthesiologists often use this for shorter treatments, like a biopsy or colonoscopy.
Anesthesia is used every day, and most of the time, there are no issues. However, there is always some risk. Administering the wrong amount or type of anesthesia can leave a patient with injuries, or they may even die. These mistakes can result in anesthesiologist lawsuits.
Common Types of Anesthesia Injuries
Anesthesia injuries can vary from minor side effects to life-threatening conditions that cause the patient to pass away. Examples of less severe complaints include sore throat (from a feeding tube), pain, vomiting, nausea, pain at the injection site, and temporary mental confusion. Some of the most severe injuries include:
- Anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction;
- Tooth or larynx damage from intubation;
- Blood clots;
- Brain damage;
- Heart attack;
- Nerve damage; and
Anesthesia awareness is another terrifying concern. This term refers to someone “waking up” during anesthesia but being unable to move or communicate. Unfortunately, patients can experience significant pain, feel the surgery happening, be unable to breathe, and have feelings of absolute terror. Patients who experience anesthesia awareness often have long-term psychological and emotional effects. They may experience panic and anxiety attacks, develop a sleep disorder, have flashbacks, have extreme fear, or develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mistakes, such as equipment failure or misuse or inadequate administration or use of anesthesia, can lead to anesthesia awareness.
Death from Anesthesia Malpractice
When a patient dies due to anesthesia malpractice, the information may not be fully documented in the medical records. That is one reason why you need an experienced New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer on your side. If your family member’s records do not adequately reflect what happened, we can retain experts who will review your loved one’s case and report back on the most likely cause of death. We understand how incredibly frustrating this can be for your family. We will be there with you every step of the way, fighting to hold all negligent parties responsible.
Examples of Anesthesia Malpractice
The most common examples of anesthesia malpractice include:
- Administering the wrong type of anesthesia;
- Administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia;
- Failing to properly manage the administration of fluids, blood, or medications; and
- Improperly inducing or putting a patient under anesthesia.
Anesthesiologists have a duty to ensure they act in the patient’s best interests. That is why people file anesthesiologist lawsuits rather than only sue the doctor or medical facility. An anesthesiologist has the right to refuse to participate in an operation they feel is dangerous or unnecessary. They must work with the surgeon to ensure the patient is positioned correctly. Anesthesiologists must also make sure a patient fully recovers after the anesthesia and is safe to be moved or discharged.
Causes of Anesthesia Errors
Numerous events and actions can lead to anesthesia errors. For example, intubation and extubation errors can lead to severe complications. If the tube is not placed correctly, it could lead to stroke, brain damage, paralysis of the vocal cords, perforated trachea, and more. Anesthesiologists who don’t properly monitor their patients are guilty of medical negligence. They need to regulate the patient’s blood oxygen content, vital signs, and consciousness level.
Turning off the monitoring equipment is another common cause of anesthesia malpractice. These machines have alarm functions, but others in the operating room could miss crucial alarms if the equipment is shut off. For example, the patient might have a problem with their oxygen level in the blood. The pulse oximeter measures that, but if the machine’s sound is turned down or the equipment turned off, it could be catastrophic.
Hiring a New Mexico Anesthesia Malpractice Lawyer
Before you can collect compensation for anesthesia malpractice, you need to prove negligence. This process can be complicated, which is why you should not attempt to handle your case independently. It would help if you had a skilled lawyer who is not afraid to take on medical providers and facilities. Our legal team has over 70 years of combined experience with medical malpractice claims. We have the resources and skills to take your case all the way to trial if necessary.If you or a loved one is the victim of anesthesia malpractice, it’s crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact Poulos & Coates, LLP, today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your case and advise you on the best course of action. We can help you protect your rights and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve.